Route 66 News

Part of Route 66 in Mojave Desert to be closed until mid-September

A portion of Route 66 that runs through the Mojave Desert just east of Amboy, California, will be closed through mid-September because of bridge construction.

San Bernardino County published a news release Monday in the Desert Dispatch newspaper, based in Barstow, California:

San Bernardino County Public Works will be constructing two new bridges and road improvements on National Trails Highway (Route 66) at Dola Ditch (2.08 miles east of Kelbaker Road) and Lanzit Ditch (2.77 miles east of Kelbaker Road), east of the community of Amboy. The construction will include removing the existing timber bridges and constructing new timber bridges.

A portion of National Trails Highway will be closed at all times to through traffic, including emergency vehicles. Traffic will be routed around the construction on public streets and highways. The detour plan includes using Interstate 40 and Kelbaker Road.

Local residents and businesses will have access from Essex Road west to the construction site, but there will be no traffic through the construction site. Construction of the project is tentatively scheduled to start on Monday and run through mid-September.

So if you’re a westbound traveler who wants to check out Cadiz Summit, you still can get there. But you’ll have to backtrack miles onto Interstate 40 to Kelbaker Road to get to Amboy.

The release noted the replacement of two bridges is part of a long-term plan to replace 127 bridges along the Route 66 corridor in the Mojave Desert. Many of the bridges are 80 to 90 years old and are deemed functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.

More about San Bernardino County’s bridge projects along Route 66 in the Mojave Desert may be found here.

San Bernardino County maintains a road-closure map here. On Wednesday, it didn’t show the road closing mentioned in the news release, but assume the road is closed regardless.

This is the second extended closure of Route 66 in the Mojave in recent years. Flash flooding in September 2014 damaged dozens of bridges and the roadway itself, forcing San Bernardino to close Route 66 for months. It took six months for the county to reopen just the 28-mile part of the road from Ludlow to Amboy.

To this day, a part of National Trails Highway from Exit 115 of I-40 to just east of Essex remains closed because of the damage. Most Route 66 travelers, however, go to Essex through Goffs Road and the roadside town of Fenner.

(Image of a “Road Closed” sign by huskyboy via Flickr)


10 thoughts on “Part of Route 66 in Mojave Desert to be closed until mid-September

  1. Eric Hayman

    It is pleasing to see that the new bridges will also be timber. To the same design and width of the originals? Or just with a wider roadway?

  2. Elvis Rowe

    I want to start by saying don’t do this.

    I went through that area a while back and while the road was indeed closed there were clear trails where locals were bypassing the roadblocks. Feeling adventurous I went around and continued west. I was VERY LUCKY that all damaged bridges had bypasses that allowed me to go around the damaged bridge and proceed west. Mind you this involved crossing the washes that these bridges span and, again, I was VERY LUCKY that they were passable.

    For those considering taking this route, please just wait until the construction is complete. Don’t be stupid like me.

  3. Eric Hayman

    I very much doubt that you were stupid, Elvis. You will have been driving a vehicle suitable for crossing the washes. You will have paused before each crossing, assessing the best routes and the water depths.

    When I was working and travelling in Africa and Australia, I drove thousands of miles of dirt road, and crossed countless streams and rivers. Mind you, I was often driving a Land Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser, and I had years of experience of such driving.

    Today, I would say buy a 4 x 4, join an off-road club to get the advice and the experience before venturing off-road yourself. And then go in pairs, with another 4 x 4 to pull you out if stuck in a river crossing or in mud; or if you break down. And always keep an eye on the sky for flash floods – they can be deadly.

    Regrettably there are tens of thousands of people who buy a 4 x 4 just as a fashion accessory. They never go off sealed roads, and most likely would not know when and how to use low range and four wheel drive to save their lives. In the UK we call them Chelsea Tractors.

    The West would not have been won had no one been adventurous.

    1. Elvis Rowe

      Haha, actually I was in my 2007 Honda Fit! The bypasses I was using I feel were purposefully put into place for locals to have access to their properties. Most were well traveled, compacted, and rain free. Just wanting to give plenty of warning to anyone reading my account and thinking they could do the same. Desert conditions, especially in the Mojave which this section cuts through, are vary WILDLY from day to day and sometimes hour by hour.

      1. HAMOUD alhawiti

        i really want to do Rout 66 start from LA end at chicago i read your comment scared me lol

        will do it next April i think

  4. Eric Hayman

    Local knowledge is worth a thousand words, especially since I am 5,000 miles away. I had an Austin Maxi in Australia, and travelled in it in Western Australia and from Darwin to Adelaide – mostly on dirt road. The Maxi had front wheel drive, and its clean underside was quite high off the ground – ideal for dirt roads and stream crossings.
    My only driving in the USA was in Hawaii, with a hire car about the size of your Honda, and that included dirt roads and poor sealed roads. And did it rain in Hawaii!

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  6. Jim

    Hello…Does anyone know if going North on Kelbaker Rd from Amboy to Kelso Depot to Cima, Morningstar, Ivanpah to the 15 is open, or closed ?

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